Fox Wants 'Utopia' to Be the Largest Social Experiment on TV


American broadcaster orders new reality format created by John de Mol.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

American broadcaster Fox orders 'Utopia' - new reality show format created by John de Mol ('Big Brother', 'Deal or No Deal', 'Fear Factor', 'The Voice'). Dutch format distributed by Talpa Media marks its first international deal.

In 'Utopia', contestants have one year to build a new mini-society with no previously set rules, laws or morality standards . “Are people able to create their ideal society from scratch? Will the result be ultimate happiness or complete chaos?” asks the distributor.

The Hollywood Reporter calls the show “ambitious”. notes that "reality industry insiders have been tipping social experiments as the next hot unscripted genre" and describes John de Mol as the "man behind the most successful social experiment format to date, Big Brother".

Fox has significant plans with its new format acquisition: new Executive Vice President of Alternative Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company Simon Andreae says it “will be the largest, most ambitious social experiment on television” (as quoted in press release).

For announced its own version off 'Utopia' without having deeper long-term data from international markets. It was just recently launched in The Netherlands. 'Utopia' started on January 6th 2014 on SBS6 with 1.5 million viewers, achieving 25.2% market share the key 20-49 target group and becoming network's highest-rated unscripted premiere in six years. Next episode followed with 1.3 million viewers according to press release. The audience later declined to 796 000 viewers according to Broadcast Magazine.

Key elements of 'Utopia' format:

- contestants start from zero and create their own rules of civilization
- they might stay in the show for one year
- each Utopian might be replaced by newcomers
- 15 individuals known as Utopians have different social background and skills
- no existing power structures. Contestants create new one civlizitation - better or worse than the one they came from
- strong online and social media inclusion, cameras follow Utopians 24/7
- daily scheduling in The Netherlands (Monday-Friday)
- no end date set, it's variable in this format

American version of 'Utopia' will be produced by Talpa Media USA with John de Mol serving as executive-produce. No premiere date is set yet. The Huffington Post says Fox plans to start shooting in Summer 2014, but it will depend on finding a cast and location.